Growing by standing still
There are a couple of well meaning positive phrases that I occasionally hear and cringe at. Today’s blog centres around the phrase ‘you’re either moving forward or backward’. It is the kind of quote that is prevalent in certain business type circles but I see it used occasionally in other walks of life such as self development and fitness. And it is patently untrue. I swear if you said that to a 5 year old, they would say ‘No! You can stay still!’ (And maybe even stick their tongue out at you too).
We don’t think about staying still much in our culture. Or if we do, it is very much in a zen, buddhist, standing under a tree kind of way. (Not that I disagree with that. Standing or sitting still under a tree is very much underrated.)
What brings this to mind this week? I've been having a break as it is the school holidays and we're enjoying some family time together. During this break, I've deliberately not posted on any of my social media networking pages or groups. And by not doing this, I've noticed quite how many I'm on and how often I feel a little twinge of guilt(?) when I'm not posting in response to each and every one. But the longer I go without posting, the more I wonder what value these sites are adding to my business.
Networking is a funny one because you have no immediate measures of when and how it works. Sometimes I get a new client who is someone I spoke to once 6 months ago who has had no interaction with me at all in the intervening months. So networking can be productive and successful and you may not know it for some time.
But what I'm also noticing is how my business is growing slowly and (generally) organically and I am happy with how it is growing. I have some false starts occasionally but am learning how those feel which means I can stop investing energy into them early on. Sometimes, my business isn't growing and I may have a month with no new clients, but I definitely don't feel like I'm going backwards. Standing still feels like time for roots to grow, for me to consolidate what I'm doing and allow myself time to reflect on how I want to grow and which offshoots I want to cultivate and which are not ones I wish to pursue. Having this week of standing still in a business sense, is giving me the time to reflect that not all of these pages or groups add to my growth and that some of them are probably detracting from it as they are pulling energy that would be better spent elsewhere. Next week, I'll do an audit of all of those groups, see which ones are worth still belonging to and exactly what I want from them. At the moment, I've had no strategy for how I engage with them because I haven't been clear in what I wanted from them, because I've been on that treadmill of reading, commenting, posting. Space to reflect allows me to realise that I and my business will be much better off being a great contributor to a few pages/groups rather than trying to be on them all.
I recognise this feeling from half marathon training; the sense of the weeks where you don't add mileage or speed as the weeks where it feels like real strength develops and resilience grows. Not moving forward really isn't the same as moving backwards. For me, it feels like it is growing deep instead of growing up and on. True, sustainable growth is often slow, cultivated and measured. So the next time someone tells you that if you're not moving forwards, you're moving backwards, channel your inner 5 year old and tell them about standing still. Tongue pulling optional.